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Isko Commits to Recycled Materials, Jeans Redesign Guidelines

The Rivet 50 is calling for nominations for leaders in the denim industry in 5 categories: design, influencer, leadership, sustainability and supply chain. Nominations close on May 23.

Two years later, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project is gaining another influential participant: Turkish denim mill Isko.

The mill recently announced that it would join the initiative, confirming that 85 percent of its entire fabric production will consist of recycled material content made from pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled fibers—a move that will be independently verified by third-party auditors.

The decision to join the project was a natural next step for Isko, the mastermind behind the R-Two platform, which uses recycled fibers as well as reused cotton that comes from its own production loss. Reused cotton is then blended with recycled polyester derived from PET bottles. Fabrics can have the Recycled Claim Standard (RSC) certification or Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification depending on the percentage of materials contained.

Isko’s focus on building a circular economy closely aligns with the Jeans Redesign guidelines, which require durability and recyclability standards like keeping a minimum of 98 percent cellulose fibers by weight, including easy-to-disassemble materials and phasing out metal rivets. The guidelines were recently updated to require fabric mills to use a minimum of 5 percent recycled content on average by weight in the total fabric composition. And, as certifications are crucial to achieving circularity, all recycled content must be validated with the RSC or the GRS.

When the Jeans Redesign project launched in 2019, guidelines were determined by more than 40 denim experts from brands, retailers, manufacturers, collectors, sorters and NGOs to develop the guidelines. The first companies to participate included Arvind, Boyish Jeans, C&A, GAP, Hirdaramani, H&M Group’s H&M and Weekday brands, HNST, Kipas, Lee Jeans, Mud Jeans, Outerknown, Tommy Hilfiger, Reformation, Saitex and Vero Moda.

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Isko’s joining is part of its greater push for collaborative sustainability, according to Ebru Özküçük, head of sustainability for the Turkish mill. “We are totally dedicated to helping build a sustainable future for the world; it is critical for the industry to work together to bring positive change,” she said. “We consistently work towards creating ways to make denim more circular. Our participation in the Jeans Redesign brings us one step closer to creating a fully circular fashion industry.”

The company recently became the only European denim mill with Bluesign approval, achieving the standard’s rigorous criteria that ensures it is sustainably produced without hazardous chemicals. It also made headlines when it joined forces with Soorty—a competitor—to leverage the Pakistan-based manufacturer’s production experience and extensive vertical network and scale the adoption of Isko Future Face technology, a patented woven fabric that looks like a knit.

Through the partnership, the companies aim to form a new business model that demonstrates the power of collaboration—much like the Jeans Redesign program is doing with denim circularity.